The efficacy of anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNFα) therapy with infliximab and adalimumab in moderate to severe Crohn's disease has now been proved. This article reviews the evidence supporting best practice with these agents in the light of recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance. Recent studies point to greater efficacy when these drugs are used early in the disease, particularly when mucosal healing can be achieved. For infliximab, the combination with immunomodulator drugs appears to afford greater efficacy, but possibly at the expense of the risk of rare but serious side effects. Patients should be selected carefully for treatment based on prognostic factors predicting aggressive disease, on the one hand, and comorbid factors that might predict side effects, on the other. Multiple drug combinations should be avoided where possible. Finally, a minority of patients in stable remission with complete mucosal healing may be selected for anti-TNFα drug withdrawal.
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Competing interests SME and PJH have both performed consultancy work and lecturing for Abbott and MSD (formerly Schering Plough).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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